Artemis and Apollo aim high

Philly Fringe 2017: The Greenfield Collective’s Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please’

In
2 minute read
Scheppard and Van Sciver: two of a kind. (Photo by Hannah Van Sciver.)
Scheppard and Van Sciver: two of a kind. (Photo by Hannah Van Sciver.)

There’s a joyous air about actress and playwright Hannah Van Sciver’s company, the Greenfield Collective, even when their material probes dark themes. For example, Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please, created and performed by Van Sciver and Nicholas Scheppard, is a fantasia about fraternal twins’ fascination with the English actress. While the 70-minute show includes some laughs, its conclusion confirms Van Sciver and company’s serious ambitions.

The white room

Director Maura Krause’s absorbing production plays in Asian Arts Initiative’s rectangular white dance studio, with audience at either end and room for just 40, including floor seating. Sara Outing’s set pieces, props, and costumes are all white. This gives twins Artemis (Van Sciver) and Apollo (Scheppard) and their bedroom a pale abstraction, much like the actress who, they realize while watching her in The Chronicles of Narnia, must be their mother. Their matching short, spikey white-blond hair is an homage to her distinctive androgynous look.

As one often hears about twins, they create their own private world. Their distant, well-meaning parents (Krista Apple and Doug Hara) appear briefly on the kids’ television. The twins know they were adopted and rationalize why Swinton gave them up. “If we grew up together,” says Artemis, “it wouldn’t be a good story . . . It wouldn’t be a myth.”

Mythical maturation

Like many myths, this one takes sad, even tragic turns. Their Tilda fantasy turns obsessive, more for one sibling than for the other. Adolescence means separate bedrooms, so they’re no longer constant companions and they develop separate interests as they mature. And what’s become of all the letters they sent to Swinton?

Krause’s staging includes much dance and expressive movement, complimented by Michael Lambui’s resourceful lighting and Lucas Fendlay’s otherworldly sound and projections. But at the heart of Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please are Van Sciver and Scheppard’s delicately detailed performances, which convincingly reveal the twins from toddlers’ wide-eyed wonder to their turbulent teenage years.

What, When, Where

Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please. By Nicholas Scheppard and Hannah Van Sciver, Maura Krause directed. The Greenfield Collective. Through September 17, 2017, at the Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia. (215) 413-1318 or fringearts.com.

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